Pittsburgh Steelers Activate Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick From COVID-19 List

PITTSBURGH — At least one important piece returns to the Pittsburgh Steelers defense ahead of Sunday’s AFC North game on the Cincinnati Bengals.

The team has activated security Minkah Fitzpatrick from the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday morning.

“He looks like he’s there for me 100 percent,” said defensive coordinator Keith Butler. “He’ll practice today and see how he feels, that sort of thing.”

Fitzpatrick tested positive for the virus on Nov. 15 and was added to the active roster after a mandatory 10-day stay on COVID-19 protocols.

Without Fitzpatrick — and two other major contributors to pass-rusher TJ Watt and corner back Joe Haden — the Steelers’ defense struggled to keep the powerful Los Angeles Chargersviolation under control. In the absence of Fitzpatrick, safety for beginners Tre Norwood ended up playing every snap.

Fitzpatrick isn’t the only defensive player the Steelers hope to have back against the Bengals. Watt, who injured his hip and knee in a sack in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions, returned to practice on Wednesday as a limited entrant. Watt missed the first meeting against the Bengals after sustaining a groin injury a week earlier, and fellow outside linebacker Alex Highsmith was also out of that game with a groin injury.

Haden, who suffered a sprained midfoot in the same game, didn’t practice on Wednesday, but coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday he also expected to return to training sometime this week.

“I’m really happy with it,” Butler said of getting Fitzpatrick back. “And the ability to get the other guys back too, that always helps. The last time we played against them, we had a few people behind.

“That those guys come back and can play means a lot to us, means a lot to everyone on the pitch. They are used to playing with each other. It will undoubtedly be better for us.”

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